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What is the difference between access point and repeater/extender?

If you’ve recently purchased a router and played around with its settings, you may have noticed that it can be set to one of two modes: “Access Point” or “Repeater.” These are both very useful features of modern routers that can fill a void in your networking setup. The only questions are what each mode does and when you should use it.

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access point mode

When Should You Use Access Point and Repeater Modes?

To begin, it’s critical to understand where these router modes come into play. You may not need to use these options if everyone can connect to the main Internet source (e.g., ISP modem) without issue. Converting a router to an access point or repeater is useful when you need a “middle man” method to connect to a network and improve reception.

For example, if your computer’s Wi-Fi isn’t connecting to Router A due to distance or physical obstacles, you can put Router B between your computer and Router A and have it “pass along” Router A’s Wi-Fi signal to your computer. Your router’s access point and repeater modes can both accomplish this.

But how do they differ from one another?

When using an Ethernet cable to connect the router to an Internet source, you use Access Point mode. This is in contrast to the standard method of connecting to the Internet, which involves plugging directly into the internet source. When in Access Point mode, you can connect it to another router via Ethernet cable.

This mode is ideal if you want to extend Wi-Fi range but the router used to do so isn’t too far away from the main router. The cable will ensure that you get the fastest possible speeds between the access point and the central hub, and nothing will interfere with the Wi-Fi signal.

If you want to extend your home connection past something like a concrete wall that is blocking Wi-Fi connections, Access Point mode is a great option. Connect the router to the central hub, position it on the opposite side of the wall, and set it to Access Point mode.

Advantages of Using Access Point 

  • Mode Ensures Wi-Fi signal strength after physical obstacles. When you connect your access point to the modem via an Ethernet cable, it creates its own traffic route separate from other access points or repeaters, which helps to maximize connection speeds.
  • Ideal for locations where physical obstacles and short distances make establishing stable Wi-Fi connections difficult.

The Drawbacks of Using Access Point Mode

  • Because of the wired connection to the main Internet source, the Wi-Fi range is limited.
  • If your Internet plan speed is 1 Gbps or higher, using the more common Cat5 cable will not allow you to maximize that speed.
  • To take advantage of 1 Gbps or higher internet speeds, you’ll need a Cat6 cable.

Repeater Mode

Repeater mode is similar to Access Point mode in that it serves the same purpose, but the key difference is that it communicates with the Internet source or modem via Wi-Fi rather than Ethernet. Because it is wireless, it cannot avoid physical obstacles as well as an access point.

While an access point can be placed in front of or behind an obstacle, a repeater must be angled around it. The advantage of repeaters is that they do not require a cable to connect to the central hub.

This means that if the problem with your Wi-Fi connection is solely due to your device’s distance from the main Internet source, you can use a repeater to help extend the signal. If your ISP allows you to connect to a publicly broadcast Wi-Fi signal, you can use a router in repeater mode to pick up the signal and beam it to your home. This is useful during unanticipated Internet outages in your area.

Advantages of Using Repeater Mode

  • To connect your Repeater mode router to the main Internet source, you don’t need a long Ethernet cable.
  • Overcomes the long-distance barrier when connecting to Wi-Fi networks.
  • You can connect to and repeat any Wi-Fi signal available to you.

The Drawbacks of Using Repeater Mode

  • Because it communicates with the main Internet source wirelessly, it is vulnerable to physical obstacles.
  • The volume of traffic is high because it follows the same path as Wi-Fi devices connected to the main Internet source.
  • In situations where a large number of devices are connected at the same time, high traffic means unstable and slower Internet speeds.

Which Is the Best?

If you want to place the router close to the central hub and have optimal speeds, use the Access Point mode and connect the two points with an Ethernet cable. If getting a cable between the two routers is difficult and you’re trying to bridge a long distance, repeaters will be easier to set up.

Wavlink wifi extender – the best alternative for router

Routers aren’t the only devices that can resolve Wi-Fi connection issues caused by physical obstacles and the distance between your device and the modem. You can use a Wi-Fi extender, which is a less expensive and simpler option.

An extender is the same as a router configured in Repeater mode, but it is its only mode. It’s ideal in situations where you’re far from the modem and there are no physical obstacles, just like a router in Repeater mode.

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